Buffalo, N.Y. (April 20, 2004) — A teaching assistant (TA) at the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo campus today filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against a Communications Workers of America (CWA) union affiliate for illegally deducting compulsory dues from the paychecks of all nonunion SUNY TAs in New York State without properly disclosing the union’s expenditures. Gregory Ball, a computer programming teaching assistant, filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. Ball alleges that CWA Local 1104 union officials intentionally seized the forced union dues without first providing the notices, procedures and the independently audited financial disclosure required in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Such actions flagrantly violate protections established under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution intended to ensure that employees are not forced to pay for ideological and other non-collective bargaining activities they may oppose. Ball is asking the court to enjoin CWA officials from collecting forced dues from any nonunion employees represented by Local 1104 until they provide an audited accounting as to how compulsory union dues are spent, and the other required procedures that protect the First Amendment rights of nonmembers. In addition, Ball seeks class-action status for his case, as well as restitution for all similarly situated employees in the SUNY system in the form of a refund of all past agency fees collected since April 2001. If the court grants class-action status, a remedy in Ball’s case could potentially benefit all past, present, and future nonunion SUNY employees forced to pay those fees– a number estimated to be in the hundreds. “Union officials simply want employees like Gregory Ball to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Unfortunately, without the protections of a Right to Work law, New Yorkers can be forced to pay compulsory union dues or risk losing their jobs.” Under New York state law, though public employees may not join or resign their formal union memberships, union officials may still automatically deduct an “agency fee” from their paychecks. However, as detailed in the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, before collecting any forced dues, union officials must first provide an audited disclosure of the union’s books. Such audits are intended to assure that forced union dues seized from nonunion teachers and other public school employees do not fund union activities unrelated to collective bargaining.